Friday, August 17, 2012

Kenneth Renshaw hits all the right notes

Kenneth Renshaw won first prize
at the Yehudi Menuhin Young
Violinists International Competition
in Beijing.
Photo: Stephen Lam,
Special To The Chronicle / SF
From the time he was a toddler, Kenneth Renshaw was drawn to the violin. "The sound attracted my ear more than other instruments," the 18-year-old musician says, "maybe because it resembles the human voice.

"There's a way in which some violinists can slide or use certain kinds of vibrato to emulate what an opera singer does. It's very magical when that happens."

Renshaw, a San Francisco native and recent graduate of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, is one of the premier young violinists in the world. In April, he won first prize in the senior division of the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin Young Violinists International Competition in Beijing.

"Beijing was just an amazing experience," he says, "because it didn't feel like a competition. It just felt like you were there with 41 other really dedicated, inspired violinists, all of a young age."

Renshaw leaves Aug. 24 to start his freshman year at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He turns 19 in October but has the poise and eloquence of someone years older. During a conversation at his home in the Sunset District, Renshaw spoke about the musician's life: the emotional and physical demands, the exultation of playing well, the nature of competition and the benefits of growing up in a seriously musical household.

Read more: SF Chronicle